Nordmende Arabella

The special music cabinet


Nordmende Arabellamusic cabinet

We always had the plan to create special house bars out of old music chests. We created a modern house bar from a beautiful Nordmende Arabella music cabinet. The house bars have now become an integral part of our product portfolio. We can convert them to order for you.

Bar design

Pre-checkBefore the work could begin

There are three ways to do this:
Version 1)
Either the music box is technically flawless or repairable: in this case, the tube radio would be the central amplifier and the Max2Play audio system would be connected to the radio. So you would not only have radio reception, but you could also listen to music via Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, music streaming and a local media storage device (hard drive or USB stick). This is controlled via an app with a smartphone, tablet, or a PC with a browser.

Version 2)
The technology no longer exists or is irreparable. Nevertheless, the chest would be very suitable as a stereo system. In this case we would install an alternative amplifier or receiver and then connect Max2Play to it (this variant has not yet emerged for us).

Version 3)
There is no longer any technology available, or the use of the existing technology would not make sense. Here we build a complete house bar (see article house bar) without Hi-Fi functions. Variant 3 has the advantage that more space is available for the actual bar. Nevertheless, we can install smart elements and also USB or Qi charging stations on request.

Fortunately, variant 1 was available for this upcycling project!

The turntable

We had to remove the turntable. Firstly, it no longer worked, secondly, it would not have been an audio highlight and would also only take up valuable space. So we quickly made our decision: we had to removed it! It is now set aside for collectors. If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us!

The Max2Play system and built-in filament LED

We wanted to install the Max2Play system under the place of the turntable. In addition, we had to remove the flaked paint and to revise the radio part. Fortunately, it was still in very good condition, and so we could continue to use it. Some people believe that these old devices cannot keep up with modern ones, but this is a mistake! As soon as you make the effort to completely rework everything, you are impressed by the great sound! We heard sounds from familiar music that we hadn't heard before. The Arabella shows its full potential, especially when it comes to piano pieces!

We converted the lighting of the compartments to modern filament LEDs. The E14 bulbs were smaller and slimmer. For this filament LED, we had to saw the socket to fit so that we can used the wider lamp.

Work done on the radio

In order to start working on the radio, the lock first had to be released. You can see the unfolded radio here, and the maintenance work could begin. The functional test worked surprisingly well. At the start, we had to clean the individual parts, the controls as well as the electrical contacts. In particular, the contacts on the tubes were badly corroded. In the course of this work, we were able to locate and correct an audio error at the same time. The solution was that a tube had very simple contact problems.


You can see two tubes here, which serve as amplifiers for the left and right channels. The left had hardly any contact and thus also missed its intended purpose. It is also worth mentioning that we equipped the bar's audio component with a tube amplifier, and thus produces a particularly warm and soft sound.

Bakelite buttonslovingly polished

These beautiful Bakelite knobs also belong to our Nordmende Arabella music cabinet. We have lovingly polished them up with Autosol. The trick here is that you have to let the polish work for at least 10 minutes after applying. Then you get this great effect!

Dialand function test

Here we see the dial from the North Mende Arabella. We removed it, cleaned it and polished the dial. In the end, we reassembled all parts. Then we did another functional check: the radio ran perfectly!


We installed the complete technology in the lower compartment. In order to close this compartment at the top and to have a storage space for bottles or glasses again, we had a light acrylic sheet made with a frosted glass look. Now, it turned out that this plate needed stabilization in the middle, as it unfortunately could not withstand the weight of the bottles.

Spacermade by ourselves

So we had to made a stabilizer. For this we prepared a simple spacer using a 3D printer and finally made it ourselves. After the installation, we unfortunately had to find out that the spacer was visible on the inside and that it could unfortunately be seen through the frosted glass.

Neufeldt & Kuhnke Logo as a stabilizer,the first attempts

The next evolutionary step was to use our Neufeldt & Kuhnke logo in black as a stabilizer. However, this had the disadvantage that it was not shown clearly. We then needed a few drawings and experiments to achieve the optimum. We wanted something special, something eye-catching! Then we came up with the idea of ​​designing the indirect lighting in blue!

Installation of LED stripsthe lighting works

We therefore installed LED strips with their own USB power supply and had to redesign a lower part (base) of the stabilizer for this. After three tries, it worked! This was created in white PLA on the 3D printer and glued to the LED strip and the stabilizer.

The resultis convincing

The construction is stable and also looks very good! Thus, we successfully completed the right part of the music chest for the bottles! We also attached the acrylic sheet with velcro so that we could easily reach the technology.

Setting up the systemand incorporating technical gimmicks

The Max2Play system initially consists of a Raspberry Pi with the Max2Play software.

In the first step, we only connected the Raspberry with the software plus an external disk and set up the system. To do this, we first had to set up the WLAN connection, as it should ultimately work without a LAN cable. Then another test followed: does it even work to connect the system to the radio? Yes, the rehearsal of songs by the British band “Anathema” (e.g., Weather Systems) was successful! We have rarely heard the piano so brilliantly. We connected the Raspberry to the audio tape input of the radio using an adapter cable, et voilà: it worked perfectly! So we ordered a HiFiBerry DAC2 HD along with a metal housing for the entire system.

The wiring

While we waited for delivery, we took care of the wiring. This urgently needed an update! Here you can see the “professional” cabling ... Before we could start our work, we had to begin with the equalization of the existing cables. Of course, these music boxes are “children of their time”, so we had to replace the wiring. The current now comes with earth (important!) from a decommissioned PC cable, then it is split up: the lighting receives continuous current and therefore always works! The Raspberry and the radio as well as the power supply for the LED strip received a separate main switch. This is required in order to be able to switch off the Raspberry correctly if necessary, or to switch it off after shutting down.


We also find it important that you can disconnect the tube radio from the power if necessary in order to remove the sometimes unpleasant humming. When you switch the system on, this can be recognized by the illuminated main switch. We also have a USB socket in the left compartment, next to the main switch. For example, you can charge smartphones, etc. You can also switch this socket on and off via the main switch. The Raspberry has its own power supply unit for the power supply. We supplied the LED lighting and the USB socket by another power supply unit. Both get enough power!

Max2Playthe structure

After a few days, we plugged the Raspberry Pi3 with the HiFiBerry DAC2 HD into a clean sheet metal device.  We also located the external SSD hard drive in a separate metal housing and connected a separate USB stick for WiFi connectivity to improve the connection. The HiFiBerry was connected to the radio via a new, high-quality audio adapter cable (cinch to diode). The renewed trial run was also quite audible: in songs by “Anathema” you can now clearly hear the piano. We have a very differentiated sound, especially with classical instruments.

Note on our own behalf: during one of our favorite songs, we heard things that we hadn't even heard of before! Our team revised the cabling completely, and the test runs with the Max2Play system and “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” by Alicia Keys were a real delight. We connected a separate USB stick for WiFi connectivity to improve the connection.

Lacquer work

The paint had peeled off a bit on the sides. After consulting with restoration colleagues, we unfortunately found that this paint could no longer be saved. Our tip at this point: carefully remove the paint with a soft piece of wood. That worked really well! We carefully scraped off the somewhat firmer paint with the blunt side of a pair of scissors. Then we sanded down the wood very carefully with 600 grit sandpaper.

Further wood treatment

The old veneer is extremely thin and therefore does not tolerate rough treatment. The usual procedure with 120 grade paper and increasingly harder sanding would have ruined the veneer for good. Then we treated the edges of the wood with half oil and then with hard oil. For this we built a brush out of a screwdriver and a foam roller.

Treatment of the smooth wooden surfaceswith a beautiful result

We first cleaned it with a damp cloth and wiped it dry with a very fine cloth. Then we treated all smooth surfaces with Herrmann Sachse “veil-free”. This agent removes scratches and ensures a wonderful finish. In the end, the Arabella shone in new splendor and was set up at home as a demonstration device.

Successful result

Our newly designed Neufeldt & Kuhnke champagne glass will also make a great impression here in the house bar!

• More interesting pages • 

HiFi Upcycling
Light elements

• Contact • 

Neufeldt & Kuhnke GmbH & Co. KG
Boninstraße 25
24114 Kiel

Phone: +49 (0) 431 – 70 57 95 91
Fax: +49 (0) 431 – 70 57 95 89
E-mail: kiel(at)